When my first child was just a baby, I did what most new parents do - I bought plenty of educational toys. Which is great, right? Except like most new parents, I amassed a lot of things that were far too advanced for her. It’s such an easy trap to fall into!
One thing that I procured long before its time was this spelling toy - the individual wheels are magnetic and you rotate them around to spell words. I’m sure there’s some actual game that’s supposed to be played (there are numbers on the letters, like in Scrabble) but I have no idea what that game was supposed to me. And with a toddler, who cares about rules anyway?
So Doug and I commandeered that toy for ourselves, instead.
It was a fun little game, we’d spin the disks and move them around (which was probably against the rules but we weren’t making a game out of it anyway) and leave messages for each other to find. For the most part the messages were fun or passing observations or even celebrations but there were also times the messages were a little more dark or even a wee bit passive aggressive.
Raising three kids under three can be hard on a marriage, you know?
At some point we collected another one of the the spinning letter games - it was very similar, though not identical, but totally interchangeable and once again it never got used for its actual intent - a learning game. Instead it was added to the original set of letter wheels so we could spell out longer messages (that’s why ours is multiple colors).
As the kids got older, they joined in the fun and started spelling out their own messages to the family and it’s become a fun tradition. You might have fun with it too - and there are lots of way you can adapt it to your own family. Here are some tips:
- Check old games laying around the house for letter tiles or cards you might re-purpose - sometimes letters get lost which makes a game unplayable, but there might be enough letters left for moving messages
- Try thrift shops for old Scrabble games - you don’t need to have every tile as you would to play the actual game
- Leave the magnets or tiles or cards - whatever you’re using - in a location where everyone can see it, but it’s not likely to get knocked over (we keep ours on the kitchen windowsill over the sink)
- Let your family change up the messages as they want, or designate a new person to make a message on certain days, whichever seems to work best for you
Make sure to keep it light and fun, rather than a chore - the whole point of having moving messages is to add an element of delight to your family’s day or to open up lines of communication. Don’t be afraid to tackle serious issues too, if that feels right - it could be just the conversation starter you need. Kids might be more open to sharing their feelings in a non-threatening, somewhat anonymous way so don't be surprised if some deeper themes emerge.
I hope you’ll give moving messages a try and if you do, let me know how it goes!